At Least Three 2022 Quarterbacks Viewed As 1st-Round Prospects

Ian Rapoport surveyed 10 NFL general managers and executives about the 2022 draft class at quarterback. While popular opinion holds that this is a down year at the position, Rapoport found the NFL as a whole sees at least three first-round caliber prospects. 

None of them are slam-dunk, No. 1 overall pick candidates like we’ve seen in the past. But there was a lot of intrigue around several names.

“I think three is the right number,” one executive told Rapoport. “They said 2017 was a down year and two of the top five QBs in the sport (Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes) came from that draft. And neither were taken inside the top 10.”

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral was viewed almost unanimously by the front office executives surveyed by Rapoport as a first-round pick. The junior announced this past week he would be foregoing his senior season and declaring for the draft.

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah said earlier this year he was reminded of Raiders QB Derek Carr and Jets QB Zach Wilson when watching Corral. 

Other quarterbacks mentioned:

  • Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett did not have a lot of buzz entering the college football season but he has played tremendously well and seen his stock soar as a senior. He was firmly in the first round for evaluators: “Pickett is a lock to go in Round 1…[He] is a little surprise, but he’s really established himself.”
  • Liberty QB Malik Willis has drool-worthy physical tools and evaluators also considered him a strong candidate to go in the first round if he declares as a junior as expected. 
  • North Carolina QB Sam Howell was a popular name at the top of mock drafts in the summer but he has seen his stock slip as the Tar Heels failed to meet lofty expectations. Still, he remained in the first-round conversation for GMs: “Willis , Corral, Howell, Pickett — all will rise when the coaches get involved and all are really talented.”
  • Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler was another highly-regarded name, but he’s struggled in 2021, including getting benched for freshman QB Caleb Williams. Rapoport adds he was not held in high regard by the NFL to begin with. 
  • Nevada QB Carson Strong was viewed as a wildcard who could potentially assert himself as a first-round pick if he declares: “I know people have some love for the Nevada kid. It could be five guys in any order.”
  • Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder has had a strong season as a senior, leading the Bearcats to a potential berth in the playoff. But most of the GMs agreed that he was outside the first-round conversation right now. 

Generally, the evaluators Rapoport surveyed acknowledged none of these prospects were surefire, can’t-miss NFL starters. But as always, the demand at the position is expected to push guys up the board. 

“I don’t know that all of them are truly worthy of getting picked in Round 1, but everybody needs them and you aren’t getting one in Round 2,” a front office source told Rapoport. “Not as deep as last year, but three for sure — Corral, Willis and Pickett — plus a wild card.”

We’ll have more on the 2022 NFL Draft as the news is available. 

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